In case you were happy

I’m here to depress you a little.

First off, we have the upcoming anniversary of Katrina, about which Jane Dark has a tough tale to tell:

The abandonment of a great city to time and tide is indeed both symptom and mark of empire on its downhill slide; it bears noting as well that pathetic, delusional and desperate regimes are equally an indicator of this decline.

I’m interested in what she has to say, but Ozymandias references are sooo AP English. She also disses on Stardust here, but I’m not touching that with a ten-foot Worldcon program.

Second, we have gender issues in physics again! One of the former Quantum Diaries bloggers makes a bit of a scene by writing well and interestingly about a Harvard theoretical physicist’s talk on black holes at the LHC, with the unfortunate addition of a detailed look at her clothes, hair, and body. Good times. It’s a good blog otherwise, and worth reading; I’m hoping that this is a either one of those writing-style misunderstandings or a Teaching Moment. Clifford got to it before me, but I’m mentioning it for the three of you who read this blog but not his.

This site says the Los Angeles Dodgers only have a 25% chance of making the playoffs, or thereabouts, which should depress you. The host runs millions of sims daily, basically Monte-Carloing major league baseball. It’s a little weird that each game is a coinflip, but I guess for a first effort it’s at least amusing. What it doesn’t say anything about is why Brad Penny can’t seem to be good in the second half, while everyone knows the age-old conventional wisdom: if you’re 6’5 and 260, you can’t pitch worth a damn after August. So much for another Cy Young.

To fix this horrible depression, you should listen to “C’mon Sea Legs” by The Immaculate Machine. Or just buy the whole damn record. I heard it in a hotel room recovering from exuberance the other morning in a Denver hotel (a Princeton string theorist marrying an MIT biochemist: more brainpower in connubial bliss I have never seen) and it blew my mind.

And that, as they say, is the memo.

Comments

  1. #1 onymous
    August 30, 2007

    In case you don’t know: Kathryn Calder of Immaculate Machine is also part of The New Pornographers, in their last couple of albums. She sings some of Neko Case’s parts when Neko isn’t on tour with them, and on the new album she has some larger parts of her own. There’s some strange story about how she’s Carl Newman’s long-lost niece.

  2. #2 mtw
    August 30, 2007

    Please, for the sake of all our sanity, do not start sounding like Lubos, with that stupid signoff. I know it originates elsewhere. Still.

  3. #3 Adam
    August 30, 2007

    As I said on Clifford’s blog, I am not convinced that going after Tommaso on this achieves a great deal. There’s far bigger problems relating to sexism in physics.

    Not that Tommaso is making things easy on himself.

  4. #4 tommaso dorigo
    August 30, 2007

    Hi Chad,

    I think the discussion following my remarks on yesterday’s speaker at CERN was ridiculous, but I learned something from it: my blog is read by a lot of people with which I would not be happy to share a drink. The fundamentalism, lack of perspective, and unwillingness to acknowledge that men (women) are better at describing women (men) than men (women), and so they just do so- this makes it for uninteresting personalities to me.

    The real problem which is the engine of all others, i.e. the fact that men occupy power positions in our society, and so by necessity women have the worst of it and get mobbed, insulted, appreciated only by their looks, is not addressed. Instead, people seem to love the situation as is and choose to bark at the simple expression of a person’s decision to discuss the details he noted in another person. Beyond ridiculous, as I said.

    Cheers,
    T.

  5. #5 Skwid
    August 30, 2007

    Since the pic of Lisa Randall was broken in the linked-to post, I did a Google Image search. There are more hi-res pictures of this lady (who is lovely, as mentioned) than many mid-list celebrities!

  6. #6 Nathan
    August 30, 2007

    Please, for the sake of all our sanity, do not start sounding like Lubos, with that stupid signoff.

    I wanted to make fun of him at least once…

  7. #7 Jonathan Vos Post
    August 30, 2007

    Lisa Randall went to my high school, Stuyvesant, some years after me. The bizarre anomaly is that she was in precisely the same class and same homeroom as Brian Greene. I’m awaiting permission from her agent and herself to use her as a character in my novel “Fast Times at Stuyvesant High.”

    Speaking of anomalies, the Dodgers — and I grew up as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, living half a block from the Bossert Hotel where the boys liked the bar and nightclub — are a “streaky” team emotionally likely to lose a lot of games in a row, or win a lot of games in a row. Coin-flips don’t simulate them, even Penny flips.

    I see them making up their 3.5 game deficit against the Padres who are tied with Arizona. Tomorrow they start a series in San Diego, which could make all the difference. At least, they can win the wuild card. Yesterday’s weird game shows how they can come back from behind. I take my son or a friend to the L.A. Dodgers games sometimes.

  8. #8 Pam (speaking as a female physicist)
    August 30, 2007

    The real problem which is the engine of all others, i.e. the fact that men occupy power positions in our society, and so by necessity women have the worst of it and get mobbed, insulted, appreciated only by their looks, is not addressed.

    Um, so you don’t think that STARTING OFF a discussion of a woman’s talk with a paragraph on HOW HOT SHE IS–giving precedence to her hotness over the actual material of the talk–doesn’t contribute to that problem?

  9. #9 Adam
    August 30, 2007

    Someone pointed out at Clifford’s blog that Professor Randall has, herself, made at least some efforts regarding publicising her appearance (and I don’t blame her in that):

    http://www.style.com/vogue/feature/072407/popup/slideshow3.html

  10. #10 tommaso dorigo
    August 30, 2007

    Hi Pam,

    no, I do not think it does, and the paragraph was not how you represent it, but rather a description of the speaker and the cold audience, from my very personal perspective.

    In any case, I did not give priority to describing her looks than to the physics – which is 95% of the post. It only so happens that I like to introduce difficult matters with some light preface, so as not to discourage the occasional reader.

    Cheers,
    T.

  11. #11 Jonathan Vos Post
    August 31, 2007

    At least Vogue did not make the mistake of saying that Prof. Lisa Randall, one of the most cited of all physicists over the past decade, “looks like Jodie Foster.” I know that she (Dr. Randall) resents that comparison. Even though I’ve heard highly regarding physicsts say so.

    Obviously I adore my wife, a Physics professor, and have always seen her as beautiful. But I think that she and I would both be annoyed, perhaps in slightly different ways, if a story about her emphasized her looks over her accomplishments.

    It’s bad enough that her boss, a Department Chairman with only one publication listed by GoogleScholar (and that almost entirely written by his two prolific coauthors in 1989) is a classical male Chauvinist Pig, who treats her with contempt. My wife, has more than 10 times as many publications listed by GoogleScholar, but the Pig gets paid more, got promoted first, forced my wife’s top-rate lab technician (and coauthor) to quit, and hired a lazy fool in his place. Further, ther Pig hired two more adjunct Physics profs without even telling my wife beforehand, let alone keeping her in the loop. Why do I say this, besides the fact that it’s true? To put to rest the grotesquerie of emphasizing Dr. Randall’s apperarance.

    Academic politics is cruel enough without objectifying the majority of the human race.

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